Flooding closes Blockhouse to drivers

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Blockhouse Island has been closed to vehicles as water levels on the St. Lawrence River now exceed the highs experienced in 2017.


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The news came as Lake Ontario levels also surpassed the 2017 record over the weekend.

Pedestrians are still permitted on Blockhouse Island, and strollers on Monday afternoon marvelled at the unprecedented level of flooding, which saw the boardwalk along the harbour waterlogged.

A city works truck and a tour bus, let in for a group of seniors on a seaway cruise, were the only motorized vehicles around.

City officials made the decision on Monday and announced it via social media.

“The harbour level is pretty much right at the level of the edge of the road,” said city operations director Conal Cosgrove.

The stormwater drainage system, which usually sends rain water back into the river, is now below the river level, he added.

“That’s actually backing up onto the road now,” said Cosgrove.

City hall opted to close the area to traffic out of concern for road conditions, he said. If the road is completely saturated, it might be weakened to the point where vehicles could damage the road base.

“We’re being cautious,” added Cosgrove.

He was not sure how long the closure will have to be in effect, noting river levels have fluctuated over recent days.

“This is as high as it’s gotten so far,” he added.

In the latest briefing on its website, the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board said Monday Lake Ontario has reached 75.90 metres above sea level, exceeding the record peak of 75.88 metres in 2017, “and will continue rising gradually over the next several days, but is expected to reach this year’s peak within one to three weeks.


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“The amount of additional rise will be driven mainly by how much precipitation falls across the basin, with an additional 2 to 8 centimetres (0.8 to 3.1 inches) forecast under the most likely scenarios.”

While the flooding level on Blockhouse Island appeared unprecedented, the measurement system used by the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority still had the level slightly below the 100-year flood level for Brockville, which is 75.8 metres.

As of Monday afternoon it was measured at 75.63 metres.

CRCA officials said river levels “are higher than the peaks in 2017, but still below the 100-year flood levels.”

The levels fluctuate regularly and the water was higher earlier in the day, said Andy Neeteson, owner of 1000 Islands and Seaway Cruises.

“The water level’s going to fluctuate up and down with the wind basically for the next little while,” he said.

Customers of his cruise line will now have to park in the Water Street lot. Neeteson said he expects the road closure to hurt his business, although it was too early to tell to what degree.

“We’re not very keen on the road being closed off,” he said.

“Ultimately, I hope that this isn’t going to be a long-term situation.”

(An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the St. Lawrence River had not exceeded 2017 levels.)

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